June 20, 2018 (JUBA) – Indian peacekeepers serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) have been praised for helping restore peace and security in a remote town, ravaged by fighting that forced civilians to flee and devastated the economy.
- UNMISS troops from India patrol the perimeters of a compound in South Sudan’s capital, Juba (AP)
Indian peacekeepers, UNMISS said in a statement, operate a temporary base set up in February this year in the Jonglei region town of Akobo in the north-east of the war-torn East African nation.
Previously, however, UN peacekeepers were stationed in Akobo, but their base was closed down after being targeted by an unprovoked attack in December 2013, in which two Indian peacekeepers and 30 civilians who had sought refuge within the UN premises were killed.
David Shearer, the UNMISS chief, said there was need for UN’s presence in the area to as to reach communities in need in all parts of the country, regardless of their ethnic or political background.
Consequently, UNMISS said, the temporary base operated by the Indian battalion was established in February 2018 to help protect civilians and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people, making it the first UN peacekeeping presence in a rebel-held territory of the war-torn country.
“The results are visible. When we arrived here in February there was nothing in and around this TOB (Temporary Operating Base),” said Lt. Colonel Singh Negi, the Indian battalion commanding officer.
“Now you can see the construction boom; many settlements have come up. This is a clear indication that the people are feeling safer since UNMISS came,” he added.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced by the conflict in South Sudan.